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Living in startup hubs: Berlin




10 minutes

Despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit and the pandemic, many Brits are still considering moving abroad. Research has shown there are more than 850,000 UK nationals living in the EU, with emigration rising by 30% after the Brexit vote.    

While the UK no longer has special status with other European countries, it is still possible to relocate and work in the EU. You just need to do your research on your chosen country’s regulations.  

With this in mind, we’re creating a series of guides on living and working in different startup hubs. This week we’re kicking off with the beautiful city of Berlin.  

Ever wondered what it’s like to live and work in Germany’s capital? Wonder no more... 


About Berlin  

Home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites, a multitude of museums and galleries, thriving nightlife and plenty of green space - Berlin has plenty to offer those looking for a fresh start. It’s one of the greenest cities in Europe, with a popular plastic bottle recycling system (in which consumers can get back €0,25 for every plastic bottle recycled) and a plethora of vegan and vegetarian eateries.  



Berlin is now home to 3.7m people, with an estimated 500 new startups popping up every year.  


Average salary  

Obviously this will depend on your job role, industry and level of experience, but research has shown that the average salary in Berlin is between €42000 - €56000 (£35000 - £47000).  

Living costs  

  • Rent: 1 bed apartment 700 – 1000 (£590 - £840) 

  • Monthly public transport pass: €62,50 (£74) 

  • Coffee: €3,50 (£2.90) 

  • Beer: €3,70 (£3.17) 

  • Bottle of wine: €5 (£4.20) 


Where to find a job  

As well as the usual suspects, like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster, the job boards recommended to us in this area are Berlin Startup Jobs and Germany Startup Jobs. We’ve also compiled a list of our top 20 impact startups in Berlin, for those looking for roles at mission-led businesses.  


In-demand tech roles  

The German capital is home to a vibrant startup community; according to PitchBook, a startup is founded every 20 minutes. Stats suggest that Germany will need to find an extra 700,000 tech specialists by 2030 to sustain its recent levels of growth.  

Currently, the most in-demand tech roles are: 

  • Software Engineer 

  • Full Stack Engineer 

  • Back End Developer 

  • SAP Consultant 

  • DevOps Engineer 

In-demand tech skills 

  • Software Developer 

  • SQL 

  • Java 

  • Scrum 

  • Python 


Visa sponsorship  

You can enter Germany as a tourist for a 90-day period without requiring a visa and can then apply for your Work Visa at an immigration office in Germany. It’s important to note that you’ll need to secure an address and suitable employment before you can apply for your Work Visa. You can find a full step-by-step breakdown of what you need to do, here 


What expats say about living and working in Berlin 

Ana’s experience   

After visiting Berlin in 2014 for the Berlinale festival, I fell in love with the city and moved here a year later. At first I was working as a freelancer, but soon I wanted to be part of an in-house creative team to work alongside others and learn more about this fervorous tech scene. And it has been a great experience and the right decision for me! Professionally I've grown so much and I've had really great opportunities along the way. In my experience, I've learned a lot by doing, and when you put in the work you truly get compensated for it. 


Ifi’s experience   

I moved to Berlin in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, working as a Product Manager. I really enjoy my life and the community I have created in Berlin since moving here, but do often find myself wondering what it would have been like to move here under different (non-pandemic) circumstances. I’m sure everything would probably be magnified, the amount of people out on the streets and inside cafés, bars, restaurants and clubs. As Berlin starts to return to a pre-pandemic state, I do see evidence of this — life is not just parks and events at home anymore. 


Sasha's experience  

I have been living and working in Berlin for almost six years now. Berlin is full of great tech opportunities for any level of experience. But the city is also very diverse. In my previous workplace I was working with people from more than 25 different countries, and all of them live in Berlin. You can be anyone here - this city accepts you with all your uniqueness and differences. 


The best thing about living in Berlin 

What I love most about Berlin is its incredibly diverse culture. Every part of the city is its own unique mini-city and you can find people from all over the world and walks of life, especially if you step out of the international start-up bubble so many of us Tech startup people tend to seek comfort in. Ifi 

This city is suitable for any type of people: nature-lovers (I have never seen so many parks just in one city in my life), club-lovers (Berlin is famous for its very active club life, at least before corona times), art-lovers (museums, art galleries etc), and food-lovers (you can find in probably any cuisine you want - it's actually harder to find German restaurants here!) Berlin is a very unique city and living here is an experience that you need to try at least once.  Sasha 

Berlin is one of the capitals of the world that, while being so vast, has a familiar feeling and warmth to it. The city doesn't engulf you in an overwhelming way at all, and you really get to live the kind of life you want. If you want fun and music, it's the place to be. But if a slow-paced and wholesome kind of living is your cup of tea you can have that too! Ana 

Most challenging moments 

A lack of German knowledge and a lot of bureaucracy in the first months after moving were challenging elements. It's getting better now, but there are still improvements to be made. Sasha 

Dealing with bureaucracy in German can be a bit daunting if you don't know the language so well. But getting an apartment is the most difficult challenge. You’ve got to have patience - try to apply to as many places as you can and be ready for the gamble this process is. It might take weeks or it might take months. It took me a week to get an apartment back in 2015, whereas in 2019 it took a whole year. Ana 

Much like other large startup cities across the world, the housing situation is unsteady - not only have the prices soared, but so has the demand. Finding a long-term rental accommodation is often just pure luck or knowing someone that knows someone. Pair this with the paper-first nature of Germany where many people still don’t speak English and you have an exciting challenge ahead of you! This is not meant to discourage people from moving to Berlin, but it is often this part that people struggle with the most when moving here. I do however still love Berlin and I’m happy I made the decision to move here! Ifi 

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